Saturday, March 19, 2011

meds and pink eye and ocd therapy

I'm not quite complient in my counseling sessions. I'll write down my exposure assignment, sure, but I'll also call it "intentional torture". I actually got my therapist to ask if I'd written down "intentional torture"! Which I hadn't, nor had I intended to get her to ask me that. Just the concept of ERP seems like intentionally giving myself a bad time. I know, it's supposed to result in a better future, but for the moment, it sounds like intentionally making myself miserable.

But actually, the exposures weren't near as hard as I expected. I haven't re-checked the stove/oven after leaving it (okay, so I made sure twice that the burner was off before leaving the first time). I've been able to look the other way! When I left today, I told myself, the stove is probably on, and I didn't really believe myself, but I went on my merry way and didn't feel to anxious. I guess I could work up the anxiety by writing about it. "Oh, no, what did I do? Will my appartment still be there when I get back? Oh, let's worry about this, and while we're at it, get really depressed. Because depression is so intriguingly tough to deal with."

Or, I could talk about my other exposure - not rechecking my alarms every night that I have work or church the next day. I know, I did this before in the summer, but I let it slide and started repeat checking again. So that makes me anxious for a minute or two, then my brain moves on. About the same as my nose hurts after using my prescription nasal spray for just a little bit and then I've forgotten about it.

Maybe... the medication is working! Or maybe I'm sick (cold remnants) and living in a fog and my brain is just too tired to mentally ritualize and worry. Who knows? But I did graduate to only having to see Mr. Psychiatrist every other week! Okay, that's because my depression was better and had little to do with the OCD.

I understand not looking at the stove because it takes too much time and the risks really probably aren't that great. But telling myself that the stove was on and that my appartment burned down? Why that? Okay, that's not too bad, but what if my compulsion is to protect others? Like handwashing (because I wouldn't care to post my greatest fears on the internet, so I'll choose what for me is a smaller example). Suppose I stop washing early/ use too cold water/ don't use enough soap / commit some other handwashing crime known only to me and a few other people with ocd and a nice fraction of medical profesionals. What might happen? I might spread the germ that makes Joey sick and he ends up with being seriously sick and it's all my fault... Okay, this still isn't working. Because my thinking it doesn't make it true or reasonable.
It's the hard ones that I forget that. I think, well if I think that this terrible thing happened, I won't know if it has or not, and maybe I will actually cause it to happen by thinking of it happening when I'm in a situation where it could happen. Okay, so that's long sentence. But maybe as I write, I'm starting to understand; my thinking the negative thoughts isn't making the negative event happen. Funny how after a year of OCD research I suddenly understand it anew. ERP wouldn't be such intentional torment the more I understood that thinking something doesn't make it happen.

Oh, I forgot to tell about my case of pink eye. It's pretty boring, but it got me an extra day to rest before returning to work after being sick with a flu. And it is temporarily helping me not touch my eyes during the day. There might be some ocd in there, or maybe just a germ-spreading habbit.


  1. I know how it feels when you try to walk away without checking the stove. I've been doing it for a while, but many times I still go back and check it. My OCD keeps telling me that I will get a call at work to tell me that my family was found dead because I didn't check the stove and it was leaking gas. What I do is just look at the knobs, just to make sure that they are in the off position, and walk away, even though the anxiety is killing me inside. But sometimes the OCD wins. We just have to keep working on it.

  2. Yeah, my therapist said that exposure therapists are the "cruelist compassionate" people around. That sometimes he feels like his job is to say, "do what you don't want to do" all day long. But he reminds me that my life already was a torment with the ocd and doing the compulsions, and that doing exposures offered me the hope of getting better, whereas compulsions just make the ocd stronger.